Principal Investigator (PI): Bruce Caron, New Media Research Institute
Collaborative connections between Earth-Sun science communities and their attendant applications and educational user communities have been hampered by the lack of nimble user application authoring tools that A) access and visualize/analyze subsetted NASA data and B) offer minimal learning curves to end users. The commercial software solutions to data access and use (e.g. IDL and ArcGIS) have found widespread acceptance within the science community, but are far too complicated for most other users. Open-source (mostly Java-based) tools offer valuable, but often very limited, capabilities for data access and manipulation. At the same time, commercial multimedia application authoring tools (e.g. Macromedia/Adobe Director and Flash) offer rapid graphical user interface (GUI) building capabilities, and easy deployment to user computers (Windows and MacOS), but these cannot handle NASA data resources.
The DIAL project provides NASA with a proven plug-in bridge between a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) data tool (IDL) and a commercial GUI authoring tool (Macromedia/Adobe Director). Our proposed effort will articulate the use of this technology for the products of NASA Earth-Sun science. The DIAL project will demonstrate robust, inexpensive (in time and dollars) NASA data-rich user software applications as well as application authoring technologies for NASA education efforts. These applications and authoring technologies can be easily ported for use within other user communities (such as resource/regional planners and decision makers).
The DIAL solution is more than a collection of model user applications. DIAL builds a NASA-data centric software authoring system that leverages COTS software resources and innovative plug-in technology developed in-house that can be used by any NASA program to build data-rich applications for their most valued end-user communities: applications simple enough for a middle-school child and yet powerful enough for an emergency response decision maker or the congressional committee aide.
The DIAL project proposes to demonstrate how this available technology can access a variety of important NASA Sun-Earth science data types and formats (e.g., Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) data in HDF-EOS or GeoTIFF, OPeNDAP). The project will also extend its plug-in technology to access runtime ESRI software code (ArcEngine and ArcObjects). For the first time, a single user application will be able to handle raster data arrays (with runtime IDL) and GIS information (with ArcEngine). DIAL brings real data ACCESS to support education and decision management systems. DIAL offers NASA programs new capabilities for building software solutions to manage and distribute data resources.
The DIAL authoring solution will be demonstrated and disseminated at Earth Science Information Partners (ESIP) technology workshops, and the DIAL project code will be maintained on the content versioning system of the National Science Digital Library.